November 28, 2009
He was on a waiting list for a in Argentina and money had been donated to pay for travel expenses. He had been in and out of the hospital during these past 8 months, but always came through.
The family told us that last night he was fine. He was at home with his family talking and having a good time. He woke up around 3:00 am to get a drink of water and told his mother that he was not feeling well. She called an ambulance, but he had passed away before it arrived.
Thank you for your prayers for Mingo and his family. Please continue praying. His mother had been filled with so much hope and expectations and is now having a really hard time. His death really took all of us by surprise. He was only 19 years old. We do, however, take comfort in the knowledge that he is no longer suffering, is in heaven and that we will see him again someday.
The funeral and burial will be tomorrow morning at 7:30 am. We are praying that many will come and will desire a relationship with Jesus through hearing the testimony of Mingo's life.
November 22, 2009
It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Summer!
The temperature reached 110 degrees today with the heat index. Yes, its summer time in
Donald began the month of September by helping with a work team that came to do more construction on one of our churches (Cristo Viviente). It was great seeing the team and church members working side by side. Cora even pitched in after school!
Much of what Donald does on a daily basis involves hanging out with and helping the silversmiths that he has befriended. It’s nothing glamorous or complicated, but who ever said that sharing the gospel had to be? Last month 2 of his friends started attending church with us. One of them also bought himself a new Bible and is filled with questions. Praise God!
Carol has been very busy the past couple of months with the registration of new students for the New Horizon school. It is a hard process that involves a lot of prayer since there are often twice as many children applying than available spaces. She did 64 home visits and social histories in 3 weeks. It was a great opportunity to see the students’ homes and to start to form relationships with their parents.
In October Carol and Sue (the school’s director) had 9 of the 8th grade girls at our home for a sleepover. They all decided to “sleep” outside on our trampoline, which was a first for all of them. We also spent time discussing the dreams that God gives us for our lives and the obstacles that can get in the way.
Cora celebrated her 5th birthday on October 10th with a cookout out at our home. Both Paraguayan and missionary friends were invited. She had the “Happy Birthday” song sung to her in 3 different languages – Spanish, English and Guarani!
For Cora, one of the highlights of the last couple months was the International night at her school. The kids in her class represented the country of
Next week Cora will be graduating from Jardín (preschool) and is looking forward to starting Preescolar (kindergarten) in February.
On the Horizon
Trip: On the 25th of December we will be heading to Brazil with the Paraguayan Methodist choir group. We will be there for 2 weeks ministering in several churches. Carol will be playing her trumpet and Donald will be helping with some of the dramas. Rio de Janeiro
- Our Home: A few weeks ago we received notice that the renters in our home in
will be vacating on November 30th. If anyone knows of someone looking to rent a home in Virginia , please let us know! Newport News
Photos from September and October can be found on Carol's Facebook page. If you are not on Facebook, click on the following links:
September 29, 2009
The last 8 days have been like a whirlwind. Last Friday I sent out an email to the majority of you sharing about my awesome experience at the youth camp as well as the subsequent theft of my duffle bag, Donald’s backpack and my trumpet from our car.
We have been so blessed by the outpouring of prayers and encouragement that we have received from both people who are close to us as well as those we have never met. God has and is working in an amazing way through this incident. He has taken what the enemy intended for evil and is using it for His good. In ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him!
Last Tuesday as I was waiting for the window to be replaced in our car I had a lot of time to pray and work on my Bible study (we are currently doing the Experiencing God Bible study in Spanish). One passage that stood out to me in particular was Matthew 6:19-21.
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
After reading that, I felt God say to me, “Trust that I will provide. It’s not your trumpet that was special, but the gift I have given you to play it for me.” He knows how special that particular trumpet was to me. After all, I had had it for almost 20 years and had learned to play praise music on it.
When I returned home there was an email from my mother saying she had found me a brand new trumpet for less than a used one. There is also a missionary from our team in the States right now who will be able to bring it to me tomorrow.
However, this is not the best of the news. Around the same time, I also received several other emails from people who would like to send me trumpets!
My trumpet was stolen after sundown on September 18th. I did not realize the significance of the date until someone pointed it out to me. That is when Rosh Hoshana was observed this year. Another name for this holiday is the Feast of Trumpets. For this feast God commanded the Israelites to have a day of rest and a memorial of blowing of trumpets (Leviticus 23:23-25 and Numbers 29:1-6).
I believe God wants to redeem this situation and provide instruments for others to learn to praise Him on. The school I'm working with (New Horizon School) is in the process of building a new Sports and Music Center and is in need of musical instruments. Hardly anyone can afford them and band instruments like trumpets are practically nonexistent.
If we receive more trumpets, I can start teaching a group of students when the new school year begins in February. What better way to thwart the enemy and bless a community than by having our very own feast of trumpets!
If you would like to donate a trumpet (or any other instrument), please see the information below for shipping information. There is a US military shipment coming to Asuncion in the next few months. If the instruments arrive to the Minnesota warehouse by OCTOBER 21st, they will get to the school without any further charges to you or us. The school received items in this shipment last year without problems. It is safe and secure!
Blessings to you all,
Special Shipment to Paraguay Instruction Sheet
This is being made possible through the Denton Project- a US military transport plane that transports items to non-profit organizations in third world countries.
For our school, other schools we are assisting, and for other ministry needs, Please follow these instructions to donate items to be shipped to Paraguay:
The items that we can accept need to be in excellent condition, arrive by OCTOBER 21st and include the following:
All items must have a packing slip with an inventory of the contents plus a copy of the packing slip needs to be emailed to: Sheri Bitzan and to Carol Paige.
The packing slip must be marked: Donation to Sue Givens-Horizon School.
All items with shipping paid should be sent to:
Attention: Sheri Bitzan PPP
34082 Char Avenue
Avon Minnesota 56310
Once they ship the box/s they should notify Sheri at firstname.lastname@example.org to alert her that there has been something shipped to the warehouse at Budde Trucking. If the donor could give Sheri an estimated time of arrival for the shipment, that would be super.
All Communications must be done only by email.
September 24, 2009
September 19, 2009
I am writing to you full of the joy of the Lord for an awesome victory and righteous anger toward the enemy. As many of you know I was at a camp the last 2 days with the 7th and 8th graders from our school. I have been doing a Bible study with the 8th grade girls for the last 6 months, and they invited me to come. I also brought my trumpet in order to join in with the worship team. While at the camp several of the staff members and I felt a burden to press in and pray against a complacent spirit among the youth and for a real desire to have a relationship with God. During the last chapel time the Holy Spirit ministered to those children in an amazing way. One 7th grade boy got up during the talk, took a teacher aside and asked her to pray for him to receive Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. After the talk, the teacher shared what had happened with the other students. It was like a floodgate was opened, the youth started spontaneously coming forward to be prayed for. Tears of brokenness and new found joy were mingled together as they prayed to receive Christ and to renew their walk with Him. The youth were also praying for each other and asking for forgiveness when needed. Even as we left the building for lunch, groups of twos and threes could be seen scattered around the campground holding each other and ministering to each others' needs.
I had the privilege to pray with several youth during this time. They approached me as I was sitting in the back of the chapel. Three received Christ. One of those was a girl from my Bible study who attends a Mormon church. I had been praying for her for 6 months. Glory be to God!
Donald picked me up today after the camp and we had to go straight to a friend's house for a dinner. While we were in the home somebody broke the back window out of our car and stole my TRUMPET as well as my duffel bag with all my clothes, shoes and supplies. I was struck with a mixture of grief and anger. Besides being one of the most valuable things I own in a material sense, my trumpet had a lot of sentimental value (I had had it since high school). Most importantly, though, it was a very important part of my ministry here. I use it every week as part of the praise ministry in the church and to teach a young man how to play. It is hard to describe how God has used my trumpet to open doors with people and as a special way for me to give praise to Him. I know He used it at the camp.
I feel that this robbery was a direct attack from the enemy. He took something from me that was very special and had been dedicated to Kingdom work. However, he cannot rob the joy of the victory that was won today in the name of Jesus Christ! Please pray for the 7th and 8th graders from the school, that they will continue on their new found journey with the kind of faith that continues to trust in the Lord in the face of adversity. Also please pray that a way will be made to replace my trumpet since they are not available in Paraguay.
Peace and Blessings,
September 8, 2009
It is hard to believe that it has been 4 months since our last update. We apologize for not keeping everyone up-to-date. Life got very busy for us, then, on top of it all we had about 4 weeks of
house guests. It was great, but it is nice to finally start getting back to a routine of sorts (whatever that is for a missionary!).
Ok, so what have we been up to? Actually, God has been leading and equipping us in some amazing ways. We have been led to do several things where He has definitely been “our strength
where we are weak.”
Donald did not study Spanish before we went to Costa Rica. He has improved a lot, but still struggles with the language. However, God has been using him to evangelize to his silversmith friends as well as the people we see daily on the streets. He has also helped translate for short-term teams and has been asked 3 times to preach at one of the churches.
Carol has never taught the trumpet or been involved in youth ministry. Now she is giving trumpet lessons twice a week and doing a Bible study with the 8th grade girls. Both are going great. She has even been requested by the girls to come to their school camp and stay in their cabin. They also want to learn more about evangelizing to their friends!
Carol’s Spanish ability has also been stretched as she has found herself counseling and praying with more and more students and parents. There are so many difficult situations and very little
community or government resources. Where can they turn for help?
“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Cora is doing great in school and adapting well to Paraguayan culture. Her favorite foods are chipa and beef empanadas, and she likes to drink terere. She has developed a fondness for grilled chicken hearts as well, something we refuse to make. She also loves to do the traditional dances. She is very proud of the new outfit we bought her for her class’s “cultural day.” She danced with her friends and ate mbeju (a pancake-type food).
We are also blessed and humbled by Cora’s heart for God and those around her. Her Jardin class “adopted” a class at a nearby public school and made special boxes for each child. Cora was very excited about giving gifts to her amigita (friend). She also gives her own money and candy to children she sees on the street. At home her
favorite DVDs are by Hillsong Kids. She watches them over and over with her arms lifted high,
On the Horizon
• Filigree School: Donald is still waiting to learn the Paraguayan art of silver filigree. Classes are waiting for government funding to begin. Until then, one of his friends has begun teaching him. Here is an example of what he will be learning:
• New Horizons Registration: The deadline is fast approaching and Carol will soon be visiting at least 100 homes to help with the selection process.
July 2, 2009
We experienced a miracle (actually several) last Thursday that we need to share. We had many people praying both here in
A couple of weeks ago we went to Immigrations to check on the status of our temporary residency cards. We were told that the cards for me (Carol) and Cora would be ready in another week or so. However, there was a question about Donald’s application. We were directed to another office where we could get it straightened out. When we got to that office, we were advised that Donald’s file could not be found and that they could not help us until it was located. Needless to say, they were in no hurry to look for it and said it was our problem and not theirs. Talking to them was like hitting our heads against a brick wall; a very frustrating experience. We did eventually get the cell phone number of one of the office staff, so that we did not have to personally go downtown every day just to see if they found the document.
Well, we started sharing our situation with friends and family, and the prayers started going out. In addition, I started calling the man’s cell phone every day asking about my husband’s “lost” file. (It does not hurt to be a squeaky wheel once in awhile.) Finally, the man asked us to come back to the office and said he would personally look for the file while we were there. I bet he was secretly wishing he had never given those “gringos” his number.
We had some of the school staff pray with us before heading back to Immigrations. The main prayer that was lifted up was for favor in the eyes of man and that somebody there would want to help us. That’s when the miracle began! As soon as we got up to the office, the same man I had been bugging all week greeted us and kept telling us that he really wanted to help us. (Miracle #1) We sat down at his desk and spoke to him for awhile, and then he began looking around the office. It is important to note that there was absolutely nothing on top of his desk at that time.
After looking in his office, he had us wait in the waiting area while he looked in a couple of other offices, including that of the director. He came out frustrated and empty-handed, and asked us back into his office again. As we walked in, we noticed a folder sitting on his desk. He picked it up, and lo and behold, it was Donald’s. He asked the other 3 people who were there, but nobody seemed to know how it got there (remember there was nothing on his desk before! Miracle #2)
Now, with the folder in hand, we were able to explain the document that they had questions about to begin with. He listened to us and seemed to understand everything. (Miracle #3) However, he informed us that he was just a researcher and could not make a decision. We needed to talk to the lawyer.
Fortunately the lawyer was sitting at a desk in the same room and we had the first number to meet with him. When our friend (he was definitely a friend by now) told him about us, the lawyer just waved him away and said that he was too busy and that we needed to come back the next day. Then, in all of his business he proceeded to call the people who had the second number.
Our friend found that to be unacceptable and approached the lawyer again about meeting with us first. His persistence paid off as the lawyer reluctantly grabbed Donald’s folder from him and began to read the document. (Miracle #4) We explained it to him, but we were not sure if he understood us. He then got up and asked us to wait in the waiting area while he talked to the director.
As we waited in the crowded room I felt a sudden urge to pray again. I grabbed Donald’s hand and we prayed out loud in English, heads bowed and eyes closed. As soon as we said amen, the lawyer came walking out of the director’s office with a smile on his face. (Miracle #5) He said that after our explanation they now understood the document and would pass Donald’s file back into the residency process. We watched him put his signature on it!
Oh yeah, we asked our friend how long he had been working in that office. He told us he had been there just a little over a month.
How great is our God and how marvelous are His works!
May 11, 2009
Automobile and Residency
We have 2 awesome praise reports that we need to share. First, shortly after writing our last update in March, we were able to get all our paperwork turned in for our residency. As missionaries we have been approved for temporary residency, which is 1 year. In a year we will then apply for permanent residency which will be good for 10 years. Of course, we will have to get some documents updated. The good news, however, is there will be less paperwork to complete the second time around.
Second, we will be getting our new car tomorrow! All the funds came in for us to purchase a 2005 Suzuki Vitara. We got it for a great price and will be saving money in gas and repair costs.
Thank you for all the prayers and financial gifts.
Donald continues to spend time with the silversmiths on a weekly basis. Right now he is observing their work and helping out while conversing with them. The conversations often lead to spiritual matters. He is finding that there are a lot of varied needs ranging from drug addiction to religious legalism. One of his goals is to eventually start an Alpha course for them. Donald will also soon have the opportunity to learn how to do filigree, a traditional Paraguayan art of intricate silver wire designs.
Donald continues to be involved with Alpha and helps with a course once a week. He has also begun visiting the men’s prison once a month with a group of missionaries and pastors in order to encourage and pray with the inmates.
Carol loves being a part of the New Horizons School. Every day she witnesses the positive impacts that God has made on the community through the school. The school has never had a social worker, so one of Carol’s tasks is to help define that role. She has also been given the opportunity to supervise a Paraguayan social work student. Perla, one of the school’s secretaries, is studying social work in the evenings at a local Evangelical Christian university. As part of their studies, the students are required to do field placements with qualified social workers. Since the university is evangelical, public agencies have turned their students away, not wanting their “Christian influence.”
Carol received an official letter from the university requesting that she consider supervising students. Sue Givens, the school director was excited about the opportunity. It adds yet another dynamic to New Horizon’s vision of training and preparing a new generation of Paraguayan leaders who are guided by Biblical principles and the Holy Spirit.
In addition to the school, Carol continues to teach trumpet lessons twice a week. She and Donald have also begun teaching English to our original Alpha group on Saturday mornings and at one of our churches on Saturday evenings as an outreach to the community.
Cora continues to love school. She is learning new skills very quickly and fits in well with her peers. This week all the girls in her class will be doing a traditional dance for the parents. She is very excited about dressing up in her borrowed Paraguayan outfit and is practicing every day at home. Of course, her proud parents will be there with the video camera.
In our last update we had mentioned the new church start in San Carlos. We have been supporting them more. Donald even preached there (his 1st time ever) a couple of weeks ago in Spanish. The church membership is very small, but they have a desire to reach out to their neighbors. They are currently organizing a children’s program that will be held on Saturdays.
Many of you probably remember when Donald was helping with the construction of the Cristo Viviente church. Well, about a month ago a huge storm passed through the area, ripping up about one third of the new roof. Instead of becoming discouraged, the church members rallied together and began praying, fasting and holding fund raisers. The money was raised, the roof was repaired and even more construction progress is being made. What an awesome testimony of God’s provision!
• Residency – Our documents were accepted and we were granted temporary residency
• Automobile – All of our funds came in right on time!
• Cristo Viviente – The roof was repaired and construction continues
• God’s Protection – Donald was hit by a bus last week while riding a motorcycle. Miraculously he was unharmed. The same week a little boy in one of our churches fell from the 2nd floor of a building. He had no injuries as well.
• Spiritual Protection – we have experienced some amazing blessings over the past couple months. This past week we have also had some significant spiritual attacks. Please pray that we will continue to stand strong against the enemy’s attempts to rob us of our blessings.
• Barrio San Carlos – that spiritual revival will overtake the area
• The Silversmiths – that God will continue to open doors for Donald as he pursues a relationship with them and for wisdom
• Our Witness – that we will be faithful and bold witnesses for Jesus Christ everywhere that we go!
Link to March Pictures:
Link to April Pictures:
May 10, 2009
The other day as I was reading in Matthew, I was shown a new perspective on my accent. Matthew 26:72-74 states:
“And again he denied it and disowned Him with an oath, saying, I do not know the Man! After a little while, the bystanders came up and said to Peter, You certainly are one of them too, for even your accent betrays you. Then Peter began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, I do not even know the Man! And at that moment a rooster crowed.”
Sometimes, those of us who are Christians find ourselves feeling the same way. It is easy to follow Christ and share freely about His love when we are surrounded by others of like mind. However, as we step out our front doors into a world that is increasingly hostile and unreceptive to the ideas and values we hold, we can lose our confidence and find that it is easier to just “blend in.” We try to hide the special “accent” God has put on our lives.
Following Christ is costly, but what is the cost of denying the One who freely sacrificed everything for us? When Peter realized what he had done, “he went outside and wept bitterly.” (v. 75b)
Let us learn from Peter and boldly display our accent without shame. Then we can say as Paul did, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16).
April 10, 2009
March 24, 2009
Last Monday was a long day for me. When Cora got out of school I was hot and tired and more than ready to go home and take a nap. As I started to back the car up to leave, however, I felt a slight bump and heard the sound of something falling to the ground. I jumped out of the car to discover that a motorcycle had been parked directly behind me and that it was now laying on its side leaking fuel or something. A couple of women witnessed the incident and helped me to upright the bike. I asked them if they knew who the owner was. They did not know and actually encouraged me to hurry and leave before he came back. That would not be an uncommon thing to do in Paraguay, and I was actually tempted for a second. However, much to their surprise, I decided to continue to look for the owner. After a few minutes he came out of the school. I explained to him what happened, but he seemed not to be phased by it. In the presence of the women I told him that if he discovered a problem that he could find me at the school most days. Unconcerned, he rode off while the women continued to stare at me in disbelief.
When I finally got back in the car, I noticed that I did not have enough gas (actually, diesel) to make it home. So, I stopped by the closest service station to fill up. The total came to 340,000 guaranis, which is the equivalent of $68. That is a lot of money, especially here. I handed the attendant my credit card to pay the bill. He came back and told me that the credit card machine was down. I hardly ever carry that much cash on me, so that put me in a bit of a bind. I then spotted an ATM down the street and asked if I could go get the money from there. This was agreed to as long as the attendant could ride with me. He hopped in and I drove down a block to the ATM. I could not believe it, however when the screen announced that the machine was Fuera de Linea (off line).
The attendant and I drove back to the station to discuss the problem with his boss. I told him that I passed by the station every day on my way to work at a Christian school and that he could trust me to come back to pay. Of course he was reluctant to trust me and explained that he needed to have all money accounted for by the end of the day. I sympathized with his situation and continued to think of a solution. It then occurred to me to call Emily, a short-term missionary working at the school. She lives in the apartment over the school, thus was nearby. I called her and asked if she had the money. Fortunately she just happened to have 400,000 that I could borrow. I reported this to the boss and told him I could go right over there and get the money. He thought that was a great idea, but again insisted that another attendant ride with me.
On the 5 minute ride to the school I had the opportunity to talk with the young man and share Christ with him. He seemed surprised that as a "Cristiana" that I was not condemning him for his Catholicism. I mostly shared the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He was also surprised that when we pulled up to the apartment, that Emily actually gave me the 400,000 without question and trusted me to pay it back to her.
As Christians it is not so much what we say that affects people as what we do. It is my hope that even though I was hot, tired and frustrated, that a little of God's grace was able to show through me that day.
As the song proclaims, "And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, They will know we are Christians by our love."
March 18, 2009
Last week Donald and I went to visit a church member who has been in the hospital for several days. His name is Domingo, or "Mingo" for short. He is 19 years old. He went in the hospital for a surgery and while there developed pneumonia. He is also in need of a kidney transplant.
The hospital that we use here is a private Baptist hospital. It is not quite the same as the ones in the States, but very close. We pay more than the public hospitals, but receive care in a clean environment with qualified physicians. In the 8 months that we have been here, we had never visited a public hospital. We knew they were much poorer, but did not know quite what to expect.
The hospital is called "Hospital de Clinicas" and is connected to the university where doctors are trained. From the outside it did not look too bad. Upon entering, however, I came face to face with the realities of health care in the 3rd world.
Since Cora was not allowed in, Donald volunteered to stay with her 1st while another church member and I went in to look for Mingo. She was unable to reach his mother's cell phone, so we started wandering around looking for him. There was no central place to ask, so we just started by questioning "official" looking people as they passed by. The hospital is not a single building. Instead it is sort of a campus of connected buildings. We wandered freely from building to building through rooms looking for him. We went through several rooms that were filled with half-clothed patients laying in thin metal rollaway beds. There was no sense of privacy or sanitary precautions. We also passed by people who evidently were waiting for beds. They were laying on the floors and benches both in the hallways and outside on the ground.
After what seemed like an eternity we were finally able to contact Mingo's mother and found out where he was. His room was no different from the others. It contained about 20 men lined up in beds against 2 of the walls. There was also a metal cabinet next to Mingo's bed that had cockroaches climbing in and out of it.
I found the following picture on the Internet. It shows the inside of the hospital. I did not notice any privacy curtains while I was there!
We prayed with Mingo, then I went outside with Cora to give Donald a turn. While waiting, I noticed a plaque that showed that the hospital had been built in 1894. It is almost 115 years old! That explains part of its condition, but not quite.
As I pondered what it would take to change the medical care of Paraguay, Cora pointed out something to me. Patients were actually being pushed to another building in their rollaway beds down a car filled street while passersby gawked and laughed. It will take much more than modern equipment to bring about change, a whole new mindset will need to come about. That will require education and a lot of prayer!
March 17, 2009
Just wanted to let you guys know that we finally got all our documents turned in to immigrations for our residency process! It is a relief to have that behind us.
As missionaries we have been approved for temporary residency, which is 1 year. In a year we will then apply for permanent residency which will be good for 10 years. Of course, we will have to get some documents updated. The good news, however, is there will be less paperwork to complete the second time around.
Thank you for all the prayers!
March 9, 2009
Needless to say, last week as I was sitting in the middle of the downtown traffic with sweat streaming down my face, trying to locate a building in a city with few street signs and even fewer building numbers, trying not to listen to the protests of my beautiful but tired, hungry and hot child in the back seat, hoping that we would arrive before closing…I was not feeling very “missionary-like.” It was right at that exact moment, however that God spoke. His words flowed through me as a beautiful and encouraging thought; “Aren’t you thankful that you didn’t have to go through all this for your salvation?”
He’s right! Through His amazing grace He welcomed me into His kingdom with open arms. I did not have to jump through hoops or complete just “one more” requirement. Jesus Christ paid the price for me through His shed blood. All I had to do was believe in Him and come before God with a repentful heart. That is good news (the best news) to those in this world who are weary and heavy laden.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30
This is the message we are to bring to the people of Paraguay and the message that all Christians are to share with those around them.
Donald is continuing to build relationships with local silversmiths. At first he thought that there were maybe 20 of them, but has since discovered that there are well over 100. He has also discovered that each one is working for themselves even though they may work in the same place. They make their own items then go from shop to shop selling them. The good news is that Donald has been invited to work with a couple of them and they plan to take him out next week to price equipment. The challenge will be affording the tools and what to do with the pieces that he makes. He does not want to be in competition with the other silversmiths. He is currently seeking God’s wisdom in this situation and asks that you add your prayers to his.
Another area where Donald has been working is Alpha. As many of you know, we had helped with an Alpha course in one of the churches. Because of its success, Donald had been talking with the church president about starting courses in the 2 churches we have been involved with. In the beginning of February we found out that the president decided to take that idea a step further. Donald along with another missionary couple has been put in charge of starting Alpha and training leaders in ALL of the Methodist churches. Another cool thing was that our home church, New Town UMC, had just sent us all the materials needed (in Spanish) to start a course. Praise God!
The new school year started in the beginning of February and Carol has been busy helping at New Horizons. There are about 525 students in the school this year from preschool through 8th grade. Carol and Emily (a new short-term missionary) took all their pictures and helped to prepare letters from each child to be sent to their sponsors in the States. Carol was taken away from her school duties for a couple of weeks in order to work on residency stuff. Eventually, however, she will begin to work more with the families through visiting homes, praying with them and helping to find solutions to specific needs.
Carol has also continued to play her trumpet in both churches and with the Methodist choral group. In addition, next week she will begin giving trumpet lessons to the son of one of the Brazilian missionaries. Over the past few months many people have expressed an interest in learning to play. However, trumpets are expensive and hard to come by here. Trumpet books are also all but impossible to find in Spanish or English. Actually, this is the case for all wind instruments. Carol has begun to pray about this as a possible ministry area.
Cora started school in the Jardín class on February 16th. She absolutely loves her teachers and is making a lot of new friends. Several of our Paraguayan friends have also commented on how much her Spanish has improved during the past 3 weeks. At home she keeps herself busy playing with her new puppy named Lucy (yes we have a new family member) and riding her bicycle. A couple of weeks ago she learned how to ride without training wheels. It is the stopping that she still needs to work on.
In addition to the 2 churches we are involved in, we began helping with another church start. A Paraguayan couple from the Pozo Azul church has gone out as missionaries to start a new church in San Carlos, an extremely poor area of Luque (the town we live in). People have moved there in the hopes of receiving a government home. Hundreds of families are living in shacks constructed out of cardboard and plastic trash bags. Most of them are 8 x 10 feet with maybe 1 or 2 rooms. The area is not only physically poor, but spiritually poor as well. During our time there we have seen several people staggering around drunk. There is also a lot of witchcraft. One of the pastors pointed out a witch's home just around the corner from where the church meets.
An evangelistic campaign was held there every night for 2 weeks straight. Many people came up for prayer for healing and accepted the Lord as their Savior. A group of us are continuing to fast and pray for a spiritual revival in that area.
•Alpha Material – We praise God that the Alpha material sent to us will be used in a bigger way than we imagined
•FBI Reports – Immigrations accepted them straight through the US embassy without first going through the consulate in the States!
•Barrio San Carlos – The good work that was started in this poor area.
•Cora’s School Adjustment – Cora loves school and has made new friends
•New Horizons School – that there will be a good start to the new year and that every child will have a sponsor
•Barrio San Carlos – that spiritual revival will overtake that
•The Silversmiths – that God will continue to open doors for Donald as he pursues a relationship with them and for wisdom
•Our Witness – that we will be faithful and bold witnesses for Jesus Christ everywhere that we go!
•Residency Status – that all our paperwork will be accepted and turned in by the end of the week
•An Automobile – In order to reach all the places we are doing ministry, we need to be able to buy a car. We only have $6,851 more to raise. Tax deductible donations can be made on The Mission Society website - https://www.themissionsociety.org/people/paige. Please designate it for our car fund.
Link to February Pictures: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=17293&id=1332236838&l=888bb
Also, in case you’re interested, a link to some Lucy the puppy pictures:
Because of the slowness of our internet connection, we are now using Skype instead of our previous internet phone service. We still have a Virginia number and voice mail. It is (757) 637-6655.
A DVD presentation of our first 6 months in Paraguay was sent to several of our supporting churches. If you are interested in viewing it, please contact us.
In addition, Carol made a New Year’s Resolution to post more stories on our blog. Check it out and become a follower: http://www.seasoninparaguay.blogspot.com
Love and Blessings,
Donald, Carol, Cora and Lucy
February 16, 2009
Cora starts school on Wednesday and is very excited. She will be in the morning 4-year-old class at New Horizons. Last week there was an open house for the children and parents to get to know the teachers and classroom. She would not take off her uniform or backpack for the whole rest of the day!
Going to school has also seemed to spur a whole new interest in learning new things as well as speaking more Spanish. Last week she learned how to ride her bike without training wheels. (Of course, stopping is a whole other thing entirely!) She also wants me to read more of her Spanish books to her. There is one in particular that she has memorized.
Last night I was reading to her from a book called Here Comes Heaven!, a child's version of Bill Johnson's book entitled When Heaven Invades Earth. At one point she asked me to point out the word "God" to her. I showed her and continued reading. She turned the page and immediately pointed to the book and exclaimed "I found God, mommy!" She then proceeded to point out where God was in the entire chapter. She was so excited that she even had to run to the living room and show her daddy where God was.
The first written word Cora has learned to recognize is "God." How cool is that?
February 9, 2009
Last Thursday night an Evangelistic Campaign was started at one of the new Methodist churches in Luque. It is not exactly a church, but an annex to one of the churches we have been attending. It is located in an extremely poor area where people have moved in waiting for government homes. Hundreds of families are living in shacks constructed out of cardboard and plastic trash bags. Most of them are 8 x 10 feet with maybe 1 or 2 rooms. They usually cook outside on small charcoal grills in one pot and wash their clothes in buckets and then drape their clothes to dry over the barbwire they have surrounding their lots to keep the cows and horses out.
The area is not only physically poor, but spiritually poor as well. During our time there we have seen several people staggering around drunk. There is also a lot of witchcraft. One of the pastors pointed out a witch's home just around the corner from where the church meets.
Every night people have been coming up for prayer for healing and accepting the Lord as their Savior. It has been awesome! The campaign was supposed to end Saturday night, but everyone felt that it needs to continue. So, it will continue through next week. Everyone involved has been asked to fast and pray for a spiritual breakthrough in the area.
As all of this has been going on, I must admit I have also been a bit stretched out of my comfort zone! Nope, its not the healing or praying in tongues or pentecostal preaching style that is stretching me (I love to see the way God is moving!). Its the bugs and toads. I'm not talking about cute little bugs or tiny leaping frogs. There were literally millions of HUGE flying bugs and GIANT hopping toads. I was okay while sitting back in one of the chairs, but as soon as I stepped into the light to play my trumpet, they were surrounding me. As I was playing, I could feel them landing on me and some even going down my shirt. The toads, some literally the size of small cats (only a little exaggeration) were happily jumping around my feet and eating them. I tried to take it all in stride, but I'm not sure how well I did!
All I know is that God helped me through it and it did not take away from the awesomeness of the demonstration of His power that night.
For 7 months we went around to the magistrates in different cities trying to get our driver's licenses. All of them told us that we needed to have our residency card before we could get a license. Well, as many of you know, our residency process is taking a LONG time without a resolution in the near future. So, what have we been doing?...
...Driving Anyway! Where we live is at least a 30 minute drive to many of the places we need to go and even longer by bus. In Costa Rica the buses were a great option for us, but here they are a lot more dangerous. There are robberies and injuries reported every day. The bus drivers do not drive well at all and some barely stop to let you off.
The downside of driving without a license is that if stopped by the police, a big fine is paid and they may even ask for a bribe. We have been blessed to have never been stopped, which is pretty unusual.
Anyway, as a last ditch effort and with a lot of prayer we went with a Paraguayan friend to yet another magistrate to apply for licenses last Wednesday. To our delight they told us it would not be a problem. We gave the main secretary copies of our passports and the results of our blood type, hearing and vision tests. Our hearing test had been pretty sophisticated; the doctor put his wrist watch up to each ear and asked if we could hear it ticking!
After we gave the secretary all the paperwork, we had to do a written test. Our friend, Angelica told them we didn't speak much Spanish and was allowed to interpret for us. We went to a room with 2 guys and her. They handed us a piece of paper with 10 multiple choice questions about road signs. We were allowed to miss 3 and I missed 1. Donald, on the other hand took advantage of all the help he could. In the end all 4 of us in the room were helping him with the questions. He did not miss any questions! They were pretty impressed.
After the test we were told to come back on Friday. The computers were down from a storm and they could not enter our information. On Friday we came back and did a lot of waiting while the paperwork was processed. It was kind of interesting to sit and watch the goings on in the building as we waited. We definitely knew we were not in the States!
The first thing we noticed was the huge dog sleeping on the floor. When we asked about him, we were told that he was the boss' dog and that he came to work every day. It was also funny to see a man come in selling a stack of bootlegged DVDs in front of the police officers. He might have even been selling them to the police officers.
After it took about an hour to process our licenses we went to another place in the building to wait for a judge. Evidently she needed to look over our paperwork to make sure we did not pay more money than we should have. We didn't, and that was good. When we left, however, I was wondering if she even thought about the legality of our whole license process.
Regardless we are now legal to drive both cars and motorcycles and no longer need to worry about being pulled over for a year.
The next big hurdle is our residency process!
February 8, 2009
We were blessed to share Thanksgiving with a group of missionaries and their children. Some improvisions were made in traditional dishes with local ingredients, but the hosts were able to find an imported turkey. The oven had been moved outside in order to not heat up the house. The children also played in the swimming pool.
Another big event was the seminary graduation. Four Paraguayans graduated and will be sent out to pastor churches. Our friend, German, was one of them. He came to Christ a couple of years ago when a church was doing door-to-door evangelism. Since that time God has given him a passion for the lost. He will be a great pastor!
During the month of November, we established more of a routine. Donald helped with the church construction and I worked at the school during the day. Most evenings were filled with church activities, visiting with friends or Donald’s Spanish classes.
Link to November's Pictures
Our new routine was quickly broken in December as summer approached. The church construction was put on hold due to a lack of money and school let out for summer break. Remember, in South America our seasons are opposite. School lets out in December and does not start again until February.
Because of the extreme heat, the “Christmas season” felt a little strange to us. The only decorations we had were a miniature tree that Carol bought for a dollar at one of the churches’ rummage sales and a stocking for Cora. We did make sugar cookies and ate our traditional Christmas morning “creamed egg on toast.” On Christmas day Cora opened a few presents from grandparents then we went over to another missionary family’s home for dinner and swimming in their pool.
The cool thing about it not “feeling” like Christmas is that we were not distracted by the whole commercialized hype that goes with it. It was easier to stay focused on Jesus. There was also the constant reminder of Him as we passed by hundreds of manger scenes every day, even in government buildings.
Carol had the opportunity to play her trumpet with a choir that was composed of people from all of the Methodist churches. They practiced for weeks to put together a Christmas presentation. A special program was done for all the churches. The group also sold hamburgers to earn enough money to make the 5 hour trip to Ciudad del Este. It was a good time of fellowship and ministering in a church there. The final performance was done at a nursing home for men. We sang a few songs, and then took some time to pray with them. Of course, Donald and Cora participated in everything that we did.
A little later in December we made another trip to Ciudad del Este with all of the school staff from New Horizons and their families. We got to see a hydroelectric dam (considered one of the modern 7 wonders of the world), waterfalls, and a zoo and camped out at a wildlife preserve. It was very hot, but a great opportunity to form closer relationships with the staff.
The highlight of our December was Baptisms! Over 30 people were baptized in the pool at the Methodist campground. Four of them were people from our Alpha group. Three of them were guys that Donald had been doing construction with. It was awesome to be able to share with them during this important step of their faith journey.
December Photo Album Part I
December Photo Album Part II
We flew from Paraguay to Costa Rica on New Year’s Eve. The first week we attended a regional gathering for all Mission Society missionaries serving in Latin America. About 80 people were there including family members. The Costa Rican mountains were very cold compared to the Paraguayan heat. We had a great time though, seeing old faces and making new friends. We also had a lot of good teaching from the Word as well as on the problem of dependency in missions.
Since we were already in Costa Rica, we decided to take 2 more weeks for a vacation. It was the first vacation that we had had in almost 2 years! We rented a car and traveled to the beaches and mountains. We visited missionary friends serving in Costa Rica as well as national friends that we had made during our time in language school. We also had plenty of time to relax and enjoy the beauty of the country.
Costa Rica Regional Gathering
Costa Rica Vacation Part I
Costa Rica Vacation Part II
Since our return from Costa Rica we have been busy trying to get back into the swing of things here in Paraguay. Cora will be starting Jardín (4-year-old preschool) at the New Horizons School next week. She is very excited to have a uniform that matches her mommy’s and a new backpack full of supplies. Carol will be helping in the school while Cora is in class.
Our street guard introduced Donald to one of his silversmith friends a couple of weeks before our Costa Rica trip. Donald went to visit him and started making friends with other silversmiths as well. He has started hanging out with them a few days a week. Yesterday they told him that they were going to get a desk for him in their shop. He is excited about the opportunity that God is opening with them.
• Baby Antonella – The baby of 2 New Horizons staff members with spina bifida. She just had her surgery in Florida and everything went fine. The neurosurgeons and hospital donated their services and their plane passage was completely paid by donations from churches!
• Drivers Licenses – We finally got our Paraguayan licenses yesterday after 7 months of being told “no” everywhere we went! We can now drive without worries of being pulled over by the police and paying high fines.
• Flooded House – Our bedrooms were flooded during a big storm last Sunday. We praise God for our safety and that of our possessions. Only 2 books were ruined.
• Car Donations – So far we have $3,149 in our car fund. Only $6, 851 more to go!
• New Horizons School – that there will be a good start to the new year and that every child will have a sponsor
• Our Churches – that the leadership will continue to be guided by the Holy Spirit in all decisions that are made
• The Silversmiths – that God will continue to open doors for Donald as he pursues a relationship with them
• Our Witness – that we will be faithful and bold witnesses for Jesus Christ everywhere that we go!
• Residency Status – that our FBI reports will arrive here quickly and the process will go smoothly after that
• An Automobile – In order to reach all the places we are doing ministry, we need to be able to buy a car. We only have $6,851 more to raise.
Tax deductible donations can be made on The Mission Society website - https://www.themissionsociety.org/people/paige. Please designate it for our car fund.